The real answer to how often you should take your bike in for maintenance depends on how much you ride. For most people, an annual checkup may be all their bike needs while riders that chalk up a lot of miles may need to bring in their bike twice a year. And of course take it in as needed if you suspect something is not right.
For routine annual check-ups, experienced personnel will inspect, adjust, service, lubricate or replace as needed rim spokes, tires, wheel bearings, derailleurs, levers, brake pads, calipers and cable systems. Professional bike tune-ups once or twice a year pay for themselves by extending the life of your bike.
In between trips to the shop, there are some basic preventative maintenance actions that you can do periodically:
Before Each Ride
Use this ABC three-step method to check your bike before you ride:
- A – Air up your tires to the proper pressure. Not only will having the proper pressure make it easier to ride, but it will prevent flats and will make tires last longer. Make sure you have a patch kit and tire pump with you to fix any flats along the way.
- B – Brakes are an important safety feature of your bike so you want to ensure they are in good working order before you leave on your ride. Work both brake levers to make sure the brake pads are gripping as they should.
- C – The chain is the connection between you and your bike that propels you forward. Look it and the gears and derailleurs over carefully and ensure everything is working as it should before riding.
Because bikes have many moving parts, you will get better performance from those parts if you keep your bike clean. However spraying it down with a hose is not the best way to clean a bike. Usually wiping it down with a wet rag is better as you will not get water up into places where it doesn’t belong. Tougher dirt may need to be brushed off and then wiped down.
One of the most important lubrication points on a bike is the chain. Apply chain lube anytime it appears dry or starts to squeak. If riding is wet weather be sure to apply some lube after riding to prevent it from rusting. Also lube as necessary brake and shift levers, cables and caliper and derailleur assemblies.
Bike are held together with an assortment of nuts, bolts, screws and washers. Over time any of them can work loose, so give your bike a good once over looking for loose or missing hardware. Most bike hardware can be tightened using a bike multi-tool.
Between having your bike professionally serviced once or twice a year and you doing preventative maintenance before and after each ride, you can get many years of enjoyment from riding.